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Does Intent Matter in SEO?

Jason Roy

Mayday, Panda, Penguin – three updates that changed the way we do SEO.

Sometimes it can feel like Google’s built a bubble around SEOs. Yes, we have some power, but there are so many rules to follow. Keyword density, bounce rates, anchor text, links, user experience… it can be difficult to take in.

Are we in an “SEO bubble?” Has Google really built so many rules around us that making a “natural” website is virtually impossible?

Actually, no. Because intent matters.

Here’s something that may shock you: sometimes, it’s okay to break Google’s “rules.”

In today’s article, we’ll be exploring two different ways that you can legitimately break rules set by Google. And to clarify, these “rules” aren’t a result of Google coming out and saying, “you can’t do this, this or this.” Instead, these rules are a result of Google’s updates. We’ve seen what Google’s done, then created a “rule” around that.

Sounds confusing, I know – don’t worry, keep reading and you’ll get it.

The Keyword Density Rule

In past articles, we’ve talked about this one a lot. We’ve talked about keyword stuffing, LSI keywords, proper keyword density, etc.

But keyword density can definitely feel like a bubble. What if it makes sense to mention your keyword multiple times throughout your article? What if it sounds more natural to have 8% density than 2%? 

What if by following the “keyword density rule,” you find yourself having to consciously alter your natural writing, just to make sure you don’t mention your keywords too much?

Funnily enough, by going out of your way to ensure your keyword density stays low, you’re actually doing something Google doesn’t like: you’re sacrificing what comes naturally for what you think will help you rank.

So should you stick to around 2% keyword density? Well, yes – in most cases, 2% is plenty. However, if you’re writing content and it feels natural to insert more keywords, then do it! You may find yourself with astronomically high keyword density, yet your content still flows and makes perfect sense to your viewers.

If this is the case, realize you’re doing the right thing.

The Bounce Rate and Average Time on Site Rule

This is another one we’ve hit on a lot. Ever since Panda, Google’s been tracking the user experience after they click a link on the SERPs. So a user clicks on the top result, doesn’t find what they’re looking for and instantly goes back to the search results.

Clearly, that page isn’t providing value to the user. Unless it is.

What?! Well, think about it. How many times have you used Google to answer a quick question? You type in your question, click the top result, get your answer and instantly click back. Did you click back because you didn’t find what you were looking for? 

No – in fact, you clicked back because you found what you were looking for instantly. This is what Google wants: websites that deliver value to the people who visit them.

Now, does this mean every website with a high bounce rate is actually valuable? Absolutely not. In general, if you have high bounce rates, it means the user experience is off. But sometimes, a high bounce rate and low average time on site are because you’ve given value instantly.

So if you have high bounce rates on pages that answer quick questions or provide quick solutions, don’t panic. 

Want More Post-Penguin SEO Tips?

As you can see, there are always exceptions to the rules. With “New SEO,” we’ve outlined the basic rules Google’s set for modern SEO. However, there are some cases—albeit rare ones—where breaking Google’s rules is actually something they want you to do.

If you’d like us to send you SEO tips straight to your email, go ahead and fill out the form below. We don’t send spam – just high-quality SEO information.

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Lastly, don’t forget to use our free on-page SEO analysis tool. Too often, online business owners aren’t ranking on page #1 due to something silly that could be easily fixed. By using our tool, you ensure that your on-page SEO is as good as it can possibly be. That way, you can increase your ranking dramatically, or you can know to focus your efforts more on off-page SEO techniques.

If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:

Update on Google and Backlink Strategies

Back to the Basics with Penguin

How to Optimize Your Meta-titles, Descriptions and Keywords

How Using GZIP Compression Helps Your Site's SEO

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